Cindy Aplanalp works in both commercial and residential design, is a regular design blogger and travels extensively to keep her inspirations fresh. She’s also a single mom who went back to school to study interior design. Learn about Cindy’s mid-life careeer change and her tips for aspiring designers.
1. Tell us a little about you as a designer?
I am a late bloomer in the design world. I’ve always loved design but started out with a business degree and worked in accounting. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t my calling. I had always helped friends decorate and loved designing my own home, but I didn’t think of it as being a possible job. When I realized a huge life change was coming (a divorce), I knew I needed a way to support myself and my kids. So, just entering my 40′s, I went back to school to get a degree in interior design.
If you have a passion for design, it’s never too late. Aesthetic develops and enriches over time — all of life’s experiences and exposures add to your creative genius. My global travels, raising a family and paying attention to the world around me all add to my value as an interior designer.
2. Which designers influenced you?
Jan Showers, Suzanne Kasler, and most recently, Alessandra Branca. I love the depth of their work. In design school I did a report on Jan Showers. I have a framed picture of her in my office with a post-it note that says, “WWJD” (What Would Jan Do?).
3. Show us a picture of the room you most enjoyed designing and tell us why you love it.
I love this room because it speaks to the homeowner’s sense of style. She is a modern, sophisticated woman who has a well-developed taste cultivated from living on both coasts and traveling the world. Her home and values are traditional. She often takes her daughters to their various activities or works in her extensive garden. She also longs for a sense of glamor and wants to be surrounded by beauty. I think this room tells her story well. It’s sophisticated, eclectic, comforting, timeless and beautiful.
The home owner, my assistants, Amber Reddoch and Erika Barczak, and the photographer, Brad Carr, added so much to the collaboration.
4. What’s your favorite design style?
In my design style, function precedes form. I always say “a pretty space that doesn’t perform well is like marrying a beautiful woman with no sense of humor — nice to look at, but hard to live with.”
I believe design is a living breathing thing. Good design comforts and offers joy. I begin by figuring out what my clients want by asking them how they want to feel in their space — cozy, relaxed, happy, warm? Next, I ask them how they envision living in the space. I listen for things like, “to better connect with my family or mate,” or “to have a place where everyone feels welcome.”
This is why my spaces look so different from each other. We have a phrase in our studio — “It’s Not About ME.” It’s about the client and what they really want and need.
5. What’s the essential home accessory (or piece of furniture) you use in your designs?
I don’t have a signature item, but I do have a signature approach.
First, I get the “box” right. I set the framework with smart space planning, the right wall/ceiling color and flooring. Then I begin to fill the box with furnishings and accessories that are meaningful and beautiful to the client.
Second, I select interesting and unique lighting, which is the best way to set the tone of a room. When I do these two things in unison, I find it an efficient way to design.
6. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Hands down, it’s Lake Powell on the Colorado River. Just my beautiful family, a houseboat and a billion stars at night is perfection.